Creating a habit
China as well as most continents other than North America, watching European football (football or soccer of the US) is a familiar sport. China is also home to fans of teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea in the Premier League. It is certainly the first barrier that American football has to overcome to conquer this huge 1.4 billion market.
China has long been heavy in table tennis, track, and field, gymnastics and sports giving them a gold medal in the Olympics. It will be difficult for them to accept a new discipline with strange rules and high demands on fitness like American football.
In sports, it’s possible to see that basketball has built up quite a good name because Chinese people are very idolized by Yao Ming – the first basketball player to star in the NBA.
Also, the Chinese government’s policy to develop sports in both achievement and economy will be a significant “complementary medicine” for football in the country.
Since 2014, China has aggressively promoted sports into an economic focus, with development projects above 500% to reach USD 750 billion by 2025, accounting for 1.3% of GDP as expected. In this plan, Chinese President Xi Jinping also wishes to combine health training and social skills for the young Chinese generation.
General Director of CAFL – Gary Morris admitted: “The Chinese government told us that they want to see American football help Chinese boys become real men.”
To develop American football, of course, need investment, and this has to wait for Chinese entrepreneurs to enter. In the past two years, Chinese businesses have invested heavily in European football, buying teams in the Premier League, Spain or Serie A. That may take a long time to change.